St. Leonard School aims to curb illness with app

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer

A smart thermometer made by the San Francisco-based company Kinsa and a smart phone displaying Kinsa’s app are pictured above. The special thermometers can connect to the smart phone app and anonymously share data about a student’s illness with the school community. (Photo Courtesy of Kinsa)
A smart thermometer made by the San Francisco-based company Kinsa and a smart phone displaying Kinsa’s app are pictured above. The special thermometers can connect to the smart- phone app and anonymously share data about a student’s illness with the school community. (Photo Courtesy of Kinsa)

Thanks to a new health initiative, St. Leonard School’s students and staff are aiming to stay a step ahead of illness this season.

St. Leonard has been chosen to participate in the FLUency school health program sponsored by Kinsa — a San Francisco-based company that created the Kinsa Smart Thermometer. Every school family and staff member will receive a free smart thermometer, which can compile health data and connect to a smart-phone app.

Here’s how it works.

While the thermometer is connected to a smart phone, check someone’s temperature as you normally would. The smart thermometer  — which retails for about $19.99 — will then send information to the app. The app will then prompt the user to enter additional information, such as other symptoms the patient is experiencing and any recent diagnoses.

If everyone in the school community uses the app, parents and teachers can use it to see “aggregated, anonymous information on any symptoms and illnesses going around the school,” according to a press release from St. Leonard. 

Kinsa’s founder and CEO, Inder Singh, said in a press release about the program, “Sick days are disruptive to learning, challenging for parents who must find childcare, and costly to schools that are already struggling with strapped resources. Since the thermometer is the first thing a parent reaches for when their child falls ill, we designed Kinsa to be smarter, capturing symptoms earlier, and providing guidance on what to do next.”

The St. Leonard program started about a week and a half ago. Parents have received information about the program and are in the process of ordering thermometers, which they will receive for free, said Caitlin Ousley, a seventh-grade science teacher at St. Leonard who submitted the school’s application for the program.

This school year, teachers and students have already battled a stomach bug and several cases of the common cold, said Ousley during a phone interview Oct. 25.

Ousley is hopeful that the new app will help parents recognize symptoms earlier and seek treatment for their children. 

“Our top priority is keeping students in class learning,” she said. “With this innovative program, we hope to see the trends affecting our classrooms so that we can contain the spread of illness, increase attendance and continue giving our students the education they deserve.”

The program will also provide educational benefits to St. Leonard, she noted.

Seventh-grade students, who are currently studying diseases and how they affect the body, will analyze the app’s data each day, tracking illnesses in the school and coming up with ways to address them, said Ousley. She hopes the program will help students learn how to design a research project using real-world data.

The seventh-graders also plan to help educate the rest of the student body about stopping the spread of disease. Ousley said the students will present information and perform skits during morning assemblies. They also plan to hang educational posters in the school.

In addition to St. Leonard, eight other schools in Kentucky are piloting the FLUency program this year. There are 500 schools enrolled nationwide.

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